Hair Dye When Breastfeeding: Safety, Precautions And Alternatives

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Hair Dye When Breastfeeding Safety Precautions And Alternatives

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Lactating mothers often need to be cautious about their lifestyle choices since they could easily affect the breastfeeding infant. The use of cosmetics, including hair dyes, could be one area of concern. Dyeing hair could be done at home or salon. In either case, you may have to be careful about your choice of dye. But does it eventually affect the breastfeeding baby through breast milk?

Read on to learn about the safety of dyeing your hair when breastfeeding, the possible concerns, and a few safe alternatives to hair dye.

Can You Dye Your Hair During Breastfeeding?

Yes, you may dye your hair when breastfeeding. According to the NHS UK, there are no contraindications for dyeing hair when breastfeeding since very little of the dye’s compounds enter the bloodstream (1). There is no evidence that the compounds reach breast milk (2). Therefore, dyeing hair during lactation is possible without being concerned about it affecting the infant.

Precautions For Dyeing Hair During Breastfeeding

Although dyeing hair during breastfeeding does not affect the baby, it is good to observe the following precautions.

1. Choose temporary hair dyes

Temporary hair dyes stay on the hair’s surface and do not enter the hair shaft (3). They could be safer when compared to semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes, which may enter the hair shaft and reach the bloodstream.

2. Use softer colors

Darker colors may contain more coloring agents and other color-fixing compounds that may be harmful. You may pick lighter or softer hair dye tones that may contain less concentration of compounds that enter the bloodstream.

3. Check for potentially harmful ingredients

Check the contents of the hair dye irrespective of dyeing your hair at home or the salon. Permanent hair dyes may more likely contain potentially harmful compounds, such as phenols, aromatic amines, and hydrogen peroxide (3).
Below are some of the potentially harmful compounds that may be found in different types of dyes (4).

  • Aromatic amino compounds
  • Naphthylamine
  • Phenylenediamines
  • Toluene
  • Ammonia
  • Silver
  • Mercury
  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Bismuth
  • Pyrogallol
  • Alcohol and its compounds

4. Do a strand test

Apply a small amount of the hair dye on a strand of hair and a small patch of the scalp to check its suitability. Hair dye allergy is not uncommon. The risk may be higher if you choose permanent hair dyes, which may contain paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which may cause allergies in a few people (5). Skin rash, irritation, and itching are common symptoms of an allergic reaction.

5. Dye hair when away from the baby

Dye your hair in a well-ventilated area away from the baby. Even the safest hair dyes may contain volatile compounds, which may irritate the baby’s airways. Make sure you shower and rinse away the applied dye before handling the baby again.

Possible Side Effects Of Hair Dye During Breastfeeding

You may experience the following general side effects of hair dye that may not affect breastfeeding and your breastfeeding baby (6).

  • Local skin redness
  • Itchiness
  • Split ends
  • Loss of hair’s luster
  • Scaling of the scalp
  • Hair dryness
  • Loss of hair
  • Premature hair graying
  • Slow hair growth

The side effects may vary based on the type and color of hair dye used. Side effects may more commonly occur with semi-permanent and permanent hair dyes than temporary hair dyes, which may often wash away in a couple of showers.

Possible Alternatives To Hair Dyes

Natural vegetable colors could be safe alternatives to commercial hair dyes. Homemade vegetable dyes will not last very long on the hair. However, homemade vegetable dyes are unlikely to be harmful even if they enter the bloodstream through the hair shaft.
Below are some ideas for homemade vegetable-based dyes that you may pick over commercial, chemical-based dyes.

  1. Beetroot juice for violet: Blend beetroot pieces and strain the juice. Mix the juice with coconut oil, add a dash of lime juice, and apply it to your hair. You may wear a plastic shower cap on top of it and leave it for an hour. Rinse away with shampoo as usual.
  1. Coffee extracts for deep brown: Brew crushed roasted coffee beans (not instant coffee) in hot water. Strain the liquid and let it cool. You may add a tablespoon of green tea to the mix to nourish the hair and possibly improve the color’s potency. Mix the coffee mixture with a leave-in type of hair conditioner. Apply it to your hair after a shower, leave it for an hour, and wash it off.
  1. Carrot juice for orange: Blend carrot pieces, strain the juice, and mix it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Add a bit of lime juice and apply it to your hair. Cover with a plastic shower cap and leave it for an hour. Rinse as usual.
  1. Black plum paste for purple: Cut out the pulp and skin of black plum (jamun). Blend to make a thick paste. Apply to dry hair, cover with a plastic shower cap, and leave it for an hour. Shower and rinse away thoroughly.
  1. Sage for light brown: Steep sage dry sage leaves in hot water to make sage tea. Strain the water and let it cool. Rinse your hair with cooled sage tea for a few minutes after a shower. Comb the hair and let them air dry.
  1. Chamomile tea for yellow: Steep dry chamomile flowers in hot water to make chamomile tea. Brew the flowers for longer to attain a deeper hue. Rinse your hair multiple times with cooled chamomile tea. Pat dry your hair and comb.
  1. Henna for red: Purchase natural henna powder with no added dyes or chemicals. Mix the powder in water as per instructions on the packet and apply it. Cover the hair with a plastic shower cap. You may leave it for a couple of hours to attain a deeper shade of red. Rinse and wash away later.

You may use a different quantity of vegetables or steep coffee or tea for longer to attain different intensities of hair color. You may also use other bases, such as post-shower hair gels, if you wish to leave the color on your hair for longer.

Breastfeeding is essential for nourishing a baby, and several maternal lifestyle factors may affect it. While dyeing your hair does not affect the baby, it is always good to observe precautions during lactation. Picking safe temporary hair dyes and natural vegetable dyes could let you be on the safe side.


MomJunction’s health articles are written after analyzing various scientific reports and assertions from expert authors and institutions. Our references (citations) consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

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